It was a tough slog, but after eating 6 ducks in four days, I felt like I conquered my own personal Great Wall of Peking duck. Beijing is really the capital of this style of duck, and it shows: nearly every great restaurant I visited had their own procedure – be it air hose between skin and meat, large fan for blowing on and drying out the ducks or poaching in hot water for 30 seconds – as well as unique methods for preparing (brush with maltose, sugar, honey?), roasting (over jujube or apricot woods?) and serving (in thin pancakes, with or without garlic sauce and/or plum or hoisin? What about fresh cucumbers and the all-white Chinese scallions?)
In Chicago, of course, most folks can rely on Sun Wah BBQ, where you can get the duck served on puffy gua bao. But very few Peking duck restaurants in the States have wood-burning ovens that they hang their ducks in. I was particularly impressed with the versions we had at Made in China, tucked into the first floor of the Grand Hyatt, which is why I decided to shoot this week’s “Something You Should Eat” there.